- Iron Lake - William Kent Krueger (F).
- Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don't Know - Malcolm Gladwell (NF). This was fascinating, an important discussion that needs to be widely held in our contentious culture. He does a wonderful job explaining how and why interactions impressions about others that go very wrongly are much more complex than we often want to believe. Recommended.
- My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry - Fredrik Backman (F). A wonderful book by one of my favorite authors. I have truly loved every one of his books that I've read.
- In the Land of Blue Burqas - Kate McCord (NF). This was a wonderful book and I learned a lot about the culture of Afghanistan and a greater appreciation for my Savior Jesus. It is beautiful hearing the American author's stories of her experience working in the country for an NGO helping Afghan women and her love for the people she met.
- A Drink Before the War - Dennis Lehane (F).
- The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead (F).
- Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression - and the Unexpected Solutions - Johann Hari (NF). This was definitely a chew the meat but spit out the bones book for me. I appreciated the helpful insights as far as they go, but, as a Christian, I don't always agree with the interpretation or solution. However, as far as the insights themselves about some of the causes of depression and our need for connection, there is much that I find useful and worth considering here.
- Boundary Waters - William Kent Krueger (F).
- The God of the Garden: Thoughts on Creation, Culture, and the Kingdom - Andrew Peterson (NF). I loved this - another beautiful book by Andrew Peterson. I just love how he looks at the world and how he sees God's glory in creation, especially in trees (read the book, you will see what I mean). I especially appreciated his honest discussion about his struggle with melancholia and depression and how he grounds it all with his deep love for Jesus and the glory and beauty of His creation. As I read, I long for the beauty of a garden and a real sense of community. Highly recommended.
- The Yearling - Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (F). I had not read this book before, even though it's a classic and it is referenced often in other books and in culture. I've thought through the years that I should read it, I mean, it takes place in Florida and Rawlings is famous for that, and when you grow up in Florida as I did, you hear A LOT about her, so I am a little confused about how I managed to get by my Florida upbringing without reading this, but I digress. Whenever I thought of it, it just didn't sound interesting to me - I knew that it's about a boy and a deer and the deer dies, how can you write a whole book about that, and besides, I still cry when I merely think of the end of Ol' Yeller, do I really need to read another coming of age book of sadness about the loss of a pet? ("He was my dog. I'll do it." That tears me up even now as I sit here typing this.) Well, I just finished reading The God of the Garden by Andrew Peterson, and in it he talks about having some of those same feelings about The Yearling - he also spent his middle school and high school years growing up in Florida and that book was often recommended and he wasn't interested, until his young son read it and told him it was the best book he'd ever read. This intrigued Peterson, and as I read his account, I, too, was intrigued. I loved this book. It is about so much more than just a boy and his deer (obviously, it won the Pulitzer, I should have known it would have more substance than I'd thought), and it is very well-written, and I found myself having a hard time putting it down. That is a big deal these days when I am trying to retrain myself to read and concentrate in our perpetually ADHD world. (Have you noticed how much harder it is to concentrate these days - I am convinced all of our screen time and the way we live is re-wiring our brains and making it harder to read, create, concentrate, sleep, you name it. I am not alone in observing this, as you'll see in a later book that will end up on this list soon). Another thought I had after finishing this book is that we would do well to read more things like this which show us how hard life can be, and how heroic the triumph of the human spirit can be as people bravely face adversity and manage to hang on to decency and kindness and generosity in the midst of deprivation and actual hardship, and to learn from earlier time periods. I was thinking about how fragile people are these days with being afraid of every minor little perceived offense and 'trigger words' and 'safe spaces' needed because we can't handle someone saying something we don't like. I heard someone say on a podcast that I was listening to recently that people who have actually had truly hard things happen to them don't need these manufactured outrages. Word. What wimps we've become. We truly need to learn to toughen up in this culture. I could say so much more on that, but I won't here. Anyway, I loved this book, and was pleasantly surprised by that. I'm glad I read it as an adult - I have a feeling I appreciated it much more now that I have lived a bit than I would have when I was younger. Then again, back to what I am processing as I mentioned a second ago, maybe if younger people would read more such things and think deeply about them, we'd be less likely to need 'safe spaces' for things that aren't truly hardships at all. But, factor in our ADHD world, and you see how much harder it is for anyone to think deeply about anything anymore. Just a thought.
- Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention - and How to Think Deeply Again - Johann Hari (NF).
- Purgatory Ridge - William Kent Krueger (F).
- Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America - Beth Macy (NF). Absolutely heartbreaking.
- The Door on Half-Bald Hill - Helena Sornensen (F).
- Talking About Race: Gospel Hope for Hard Conversations - Isaac Adams (NF). Compassionately written, biblical, and a very timely, helpful word.
- Too Good to Be True - Michael Horton (NF). Finding hope in a world of hype. This was biblical, Christ centered, and full of gospel encouragement.
- The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, Book 1) - Brandon Sanderson (F). I waited until I was pretty well into my reading goal for the year before taking on this first very long book in a series of very long books. I was hesitant to start this since it is still in the process of being written, and after WoT, I wasn't sure I wanted to dive into another long epic fantasy series, but at the insistence of my son, Michael, who has read the four books that have been written so far and wants to talk about them with me, I took the plunge. And I'm glad I did. This is much better than Wheel of Time. Much better. Very strange, as epic fantasy often is, definitely not a Christian worldview, but relatively clean compared to many books in this genre, and fascinating, immersive world building and excellent characterization. I enjoyed this first book and the conversations I'm already having with my son about it very much, and looking forward to reading more.
- Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn't, and Why It Matters - Steven E. Kooning (NF). This was a bit technical, but very helpful and informative, aimed at helping the layperson understand better what the climate science tells us (and doesn't) and how to recognize red flags when reading or hearing reports and news stories and politicians, etc. discussing "The Science." I very much appreciated his passionate plea to move away from "The Science" back to science and learning to look more objectively at what the findings are and a more balanced approach to understanding and dealing with climate change.
- Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, Book 2) - Brandon Sanderson (F).
- Everything Sad is Untrue (a true story) - Daniel Nayeri. I loved this book. Beautifully written, and a heart wrenching, endearing view into the life of a refugee in America. I found myself not ready to be finished when I reached the end and wanting to hear more of his story.
- Name Above All Names - Alistair Begg, Sinclair B. Ferguson (NF).
- Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5) - Brandon Sanderson (F).
- Brave By Faith: God-Sized Confidence in a Post-Christian World - Alistair Begg (NF).
- Passport To Heaven: The True Story of a Zealous Mormon Missionary Who Discovers the Jesus He Never Knew - Micah Wilder (NF).
- Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive, Book 3) - Brandon Sanderson (F).
- Why I Stand - Jonathan Isaac (NF).
- Sacred Bond: Covenant Theology Explored - Michael G. Brown and Zach Keele (NF).
- Dawnshard (The Stormlight Archive #3.5) - Brandon Sanderson (F).